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Encampments, tiny house village
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Seattle council weighs bill raising cap on sanctioned encampments, tiny home villages

A tiny house village in Seattle's South Lake Union. (Carolyn Ossorio, KIRO Radio)

A recently-proposed bill would raise the cap on the number of city-sanctioned homeless encampments allowed in Seattle, in hopes of providing a larger infrastructure for transitional housing.

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The bill would allow as many as 40 encampments citywide, encompassing tiny home villages, sanctioned tent cities, and vehicle safe lots. Encampments would also be permitted in residential zones.

Despite some residents objecting to the presence of these encampments in their neighborhoods, others see this as a victory for a more compassionate approach to homelessness.

“Why does there seem to always be pushback, like, ‘we don’t want the safe lots, we don’t want tiny villages,'” posited Gee and Ursula Show co-host Gee Scott. “Well, what do you want? A part of me feels that some people don’t even want those that are homeless to even live — they have to be able to go somewhere.”

“I think it’s OK if these are well-managed,” co-host Ursula Reutin said. “If it’s a safe lot where anyone can just park there and do what they want, and it becomes very similar to what we see on I-5 near Dearborn where it’s a free for all, I would be worried if that came into my neighborhood.”

This proposal comes as many who run tiny home villages and other encampments complain of not having the capacity to properly shelter the city’s homeless population.

“The hardest part of working for the villages is the number of people we have to turn away because we’re full,” Georgetown Tiny House Village site coordinator Andrew Constantino told Seattle City Council Monday. “Many of the villagers have friends and loved ones still in the street, and ask me daily how they might get placed into a tiny house.”

The proposal was advanced out of committee Monday by a 5-0 vote (with one abstention), approved with four additional amendments.

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Those amendments included a measure to revisit the encampment cap again at a later date, a requirement that all encampments getting city funds be in full compliance with contract performance standards, a stipulation making it so encampments would have to be spread across all seven council districts, and a 10-foot setback condition distancing encampments from residential lots.

The measure will go before the full council for a final vote next Tuesday.

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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